If God is present, is up to something, and has a depth of character and personality to which we can relate, do you think it's possible that He could ever leave us alone? I'm not talking in the sense of forsaking us, leaving us, hanging us out to dry, abandoning us, for we know that the Lord would never do any of these things. But if, from an ache in our heart, we pouted to the world, "I just want to be left alone," if we needed some alone time for our souls to ache, would God leave us?
This is an important question, for a couple of reasons. First, most often when we ask for some alone time, when we ask others to just let us be for awhile, our natural impulse in the silence is to pray. Something inside of us just starts talking to the God that we either know is there or hope is there. But if we asked Him, too, to leave, do you think that He would?
Second, it's important because there is a very popular New Age idea (which actually comes from monism, but that's another story for another day) that God is everywhere and everything in all things and so there is absolutely no possibility of ever getting away from Him. Is this what we mean by saying our God is everything, too? Is this also a Christian idea?
I don't think it is. I think the Christian God, if you asked Him to give you some space, would give it to you - honestly. I think the Christian God, if you said you just needed a few minutes to yourself, minutes in which you didn't want to pray, minutes in which you just wanted to hurt or to ache or whatever, would step out of the room for you.
Hear that - He would step out of the room for you. He would not abandon you nor forsake you nor leave you alone forever. But I believe that if you asked for it, He would volitionally give you space.
Like a good friend, I think, our God is unafraid to sit in the darkest places with us. Like a good friend, He's not threatened by our saying that right now, we'd rather He not. Like a good friend, He knows that if we're asking to be alone, we have a reason for it, no matter how dark or painful or troubling that reason may be. And like a good friend, I think He's willing to step aside.
But also like a good friend, He doesn't go far.
This is a powerful moment. It's an incredible thing when you realize in the depths of your soul that God loves you enough to give you the space that you've asked for, and then you can't help but chuckle a little bit and feel warm inside when you realize that He also loves you enough not to go far. Just outside your door, just outside your solitude, just outside your space, God waits for you. He waits with you.
He wrings His hands and bows His head and frets and prays and aches for you just outside of the space that you've claimed for yourself, just like any good friend would. He paces the floor and sometimes slides down the door, falling to His knees or resting His back against the wall for no other reason than that He cares about what's going on in your space, but He honors you enough not to barge into it.
Like any good parent, like any good friend, when you have had your time, have soaked up enough of your space, have done whatever it is that you have needed to do in the silence, He's right there waiting for you. You can see the sweat dripping from His brow. The first thing you hear is His sigh of relief that you're okay. That's all, you're just okay. And this...this was the longest night of His life, keeping watch outside your door.
It's this kind of thing that sets our God apart. The other gods of the world, the other gods that humans worship, not only will they not give you this kind of space or keep this kind of watch, they can't. They're wholly incapable, by the very nature of their being. Our God is not only capable, He is compassionate. He is real, and He is relational.
There is nowhere in this earth that you can run from God, nowhere you can go where you are not in His sight. But He loves you so much that if you said to Him, "Give me a minute. I just. need. some. space." this God, this God alone, would give you both that minute and that space. He would pull out of that place, back off, and step aside for you.
But He wouldn't go far.
And both of those things are beautiful.